Sunday, November 24, 2013

Imagination, Myth and Dreams

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts.” ~Robert Fulghum

I have been ruminating on this quote for several days. Something about it resonates in my soul, but not in my head. There’s the rub. Imagination, myth and dreams are all left-brain activities, while knowledge, history and facts are right-brained. The first group of adjectives belongs to poets and musicians, while the second belongs to historians and scientists. 

The reason that I call it a rub is that as a Western male, I have been socialized to believe that the second set of adjectives are more important than the first. That right-brain functions are worthier than left-brained ones. “I think, therefore I am” (Rene Descartes) has been the ruling principle of the Age of Reason. Westerners would contend that, “Knowledge is stronger than imagination. History is more potent than myth. Facts are more important than dreams.”

Fulghum turns that Western thinking on its head. Carl Jung, the great Swiss psychiatrist, also turned that thinking on its head. He studied the areas of imagination, myth, and dreams, and discovered a deep reservoir of paranormal phenomena within  our psyches. These were not accepted as science, because much of what he discovered could not be explained, let alone proven. Yet, for those of us in tune with our souls, what he discovered touches us deeply. 

He found myths and symbols that crop up in our night-time dreams to be similar around the world. He called the source of these images our collective unconscious. I call it the place where God stamped his image into our souls. 

The more I have experienced God through spiritual disciplines, the more I have been able to understand the truth of Fulghum’s quote and Jung’s discoveries. I also am more able to draw from the depths of my psyche all the good, the bad and the ugly that is me, hold them together and let them be my teacher. I am much more open to mystery, ambiguity and paradox.  

Post-moderns are actually beginning to embody Fulghum’s wisdom and move beyond the Age of Reason. Post-moderns are becoming more open to mystery, ambiguity and paradox. But those who are entrenched in their black-and-white, either-or, creedal thinking, will continue to hang on to their “truth” with a vengeance. 

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). The historical Jesus as God incarnate; holding both historical “fact” and myth in tension.

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